Marlins star Jose Fernandez dies in boating accident at 24

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez was one of three people who died in a boating accident in Miami Beach early Sunday morning.

He was 24.

“The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez,” the team said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”

Sunday’s Marlins-Braves game at Marlins Stadium was canceled following the news, the team statement announced. Fernandez was originally scheduled to pitch on Sunday, but had his start pushed back to Monday.

(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Multiple sources reported and confirmed the news on Sunday morning including Ken Rosenthal,  and Marlins beat writer Clark Spencer. According to WFOR-TV in Miami, authorities were notified of the accident at about 3 a.m.:

Upon arrival, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Fireboat found the boat upside down and crashed into rocks. Three victims were found dead and rescuers continued searching for more people. The boat involved in the crash is approximately thirty feet long.

At a press conference Sunday, Florida Fire and Wildlife Commission said drugs and alcohol were not found on the boat, but they will perform a full toxicology report. They believe speed was a likely factor in the crash. Two of the victims were found under the boat and one was under water. The other two victims weren’t athletes, rather personal friends of Fernandez. They weren’t identified publicly. None of them were wearing life jackets.


Another tragic detail: According to an Instagram post from five days ago, Fernandez’s girlfriend Carla Mendoza is pregnant with their first child.

Around the sports world Sunday morning, social-media memorials like this one from Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer were flying around. Those who knew him and played against him remembered his immense talent, big personality and passion for the game.


Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred issued the following statement Sunday:

“All of Baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández.  He was one of our game’s great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life.”

Fernandez had been one of the MLB’s most captivating young pitchers since his debut in 2013, when he won the NL Rookie of the Year. His 2014 and 2015 seasons were cut short because of Tommy John surgery, but Fernandez returned to his ace form this year. His 16-8 record, 2.86 ERA and 253 strikeouts (second in baseball) made him one of the candidates for NL Cy Young. In what will be his final MLB performance, Fernandez threw eight shutout innings on Tuesday night, striking out 12 and allowing just three hits against the first-place Washington Nationals.

Also captivating was his story. Fernandez was born in Cuba and successfully defected when he was 15, his fourth attempt to leave the country. That, too, was also tragic. In their escape from Cuba, his mother had fallen off the boat they were on and young Jose swam 60 feet in chopping waves to save her. He carried her to the boat on his back.

Fernandez eventually took up residence in Florida, where he became a baseball star at Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa and an eventual first-round pick by the Marlins in the 2011 draft. He became a U.S. citizen in 2015.

*Yahoo Sports’ Mike Oz contributed to this report.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

What to Read Next